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Newsworthy: 11 November 2005

Newsworthy 11 November 2005

Sunlight is the best disinfectant

This well known line from Justice Brandeis is apposite after the decision of a judge in the Whangarei District Court on 2 November 2005 to suppress all details of a high profile television personality facing 11 criminal charges including one of sexual violation until his trial on 20 February 2006.

Suppression orders are undesirable and inconsistent with open court processes.

As the Listener also noted in a recent issue (volume 198 No. 3384) "a shadow falls on other players who fit the frame". And of course the exercise of judicial discretion on whether to grant name suppression to an accused person or not raises claims of discrimination in favour of the wealthy or well-represented.

Watchdogs turn lapdogs

The first test for Winston Peters and his conflicting role as both advocate for and critic of the Government was tested when Parliament sat for the 48th session on Tuesday.

On the Order Paper was a motion to carry forward bills and other business from the last Parliament. This is a new procedure as a result of changes made to the Constitution Act. The previous regime involved the outgoing Parliament making a decision on what work would be carried forward.

The Labour Government proposed to carry forward all of the work from the last Parliament. To test whether the New Zealand First Party was more than the lapdog of the Government, National moved an amendment to the motion those Bills which NZ First opposed in the last Parliament to be deleted from the carry forward motion.

What happened then was that New Zealand First abandoned its position of principle and blindly supported the Government position. Mr Peters and his party followers voted for Bills which they had strongly opposed in preceding months.

So much for the bold assertions of Mr Peters that "he is bound by the conventions of collective responsibility with respect to his portfolio responsibilities but not otherwise".

The polls to date Molesworth and Featherston publish a rolling average poll, the latest results of which are:
* 40.96 - Labour
* 39.56 - National
* 6.81 - Greens
* 4.76 - NZ First
* 2.14 - Maori
* 2.36 - United Future
* 1.38 - Act
* 0.92 - Progressive

Avian Flu

We all prepared for Y2K problems at the start of the millennium but the year started uneventfully. Might it also be that the fear of an avian flu pandemic is over stated.

Perhaps - but a recent launch I attended on 12 October 2005 of "An Emergency Plan could save your life" by the Auckland Region Civil Defence Emergency Group made it clear that New Zealanders should not look to the authorities to save them. We must rely on our individual resources.

To date according to WHO statistics reported on 1 November 2005, there have been 62 human deaths from H5N1 in the current outbreak starting in mid 2003. The cases have occurred in the following countries: * 41 - Viet Nam * 13 - Thailand * 4 - Indonesia * 4 - Cambodia Total Deaths - 62

On 16 September 2005, the New Zealand Ministry of Health published interim guidelines including.

* Make sure sick people stay home and enable staff to work in more isolated settings.
* Maintain good ventilation in internal spaces, either by opening windows or using a properly designed and maintained air-conditioning system.
* Wash hands regularly with soap and water, and alcohol-based hand rub or antiseptic handwash and dry thoroughly, preferably using disposable towels.
* Wash and dry hands before any hand-to-face contact.
* Avoid crowded places and large gatherings.

* Maintain distances of at least one metre between people where possible. * Consider the use of protective barriers such as perspex or glass for people whose duties require them to have regular face-to-face contact with members of the public and where a distance of at least one metre cannot be maintained (e.g. front-counter staff).
* People with symptoms should consider using disposable surgical masks

* Additional personal protective equipment (such as gloves and eye protection) is recommended for use by front-line health workers WHO Studies also report that influenza strains of Type A (such as H5N1) are highly genetically changeable. The H5N1 virus cannot cause a pandemic unless it mutates to allow efficient transmission between humans.

Type A influenza viruses are known to mutate to develop resistance to Tamiflu, and a mutation causing reduced sensitivity to Tamiflu has been reported in one human case of H5N1, leading the researchers to suggest that "it might be useful to stockpile zanamivir (Relenza) as well as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in the event of an influenza pandemic".

Infrastructure in Auckland Despite the strong focus on public transport in Auckland, the statistics show falling bus patronage. If the rumours of a sale of the Auckland bus services owned and operated by Stagecoach are correct, there would seem to be a good business case for that move particularly with the focus on improving rail services.

The patronage data is:

Bus Ferry Train Total Growth Rate Rail Growth Rate Ferry Growth Rate Bus

2000 35,649,938 3,259,064 2,289,397 41,198,399

2001 38,283,767 3,589,610 2,234,762 44,108,139 -2% 10.1% 7.4%

2002 41,368,186 3,606,548 2,254,766 47,229,500 1% 0.5% 8.1%

2003 46,046,689 3,770,055 2,501,779 52,318,523 11% 4.5% 11.3%

2004 45,228,709 3,755,628 3,241,280 52,225,617 30% -0.4% -1.8%

2005 43,053,936 3,846,448 3,797,546 50,697,930 17% 2.4% -4.8%

New Zealand heroes - Part 5 of a continuing series - Ernest Rutherford

The creator of modern atomic physics and forerunner of the nuclear age, one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 and a baronetcy, choosing the title Baron Rutherford of Nelson, in 1931. In the words of Einstein, "a second Newton". The man who "tunnelled into the very material of God" was born in Brightwater Nelson in 1871.

Political Quote of the Week

"For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next ages" - Francis Bacon - English essayist (in memory of Rod Donald)

11 November 2005 No. 53

Upcoming Events

11 November Auckland Museum Trust Board Armistice Commemoration Service 14 November Richard visiting Barbara's Place in support of Early Childhood Week
15 November New MPs Maiden speeches begin in House 16 November "End of Ramadhan" and Silver Jubilee of FIANZ function in Wellington
19 November Monaco National Day Opening of 2005 Peace Cup Art of Painting & Calligraphy exhibition
20 November Toast Martinborough Laura Fergusson Christmas Fair
23 November Auckland Consular Corps Christmas dinner 25 November Auckland City "flag raising ceremony" 2 December Birthday anniversary celebrations of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Thailand National Day 4 December Christmas in the Park - Maravele 6 December Embassy birthday celebrations for Emperor of Japan 8 December Auckland Grammar School Prize Giving

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